A parasite is a plant or animal that cannot live without its host. A host is another living organism that the parasite depends on to live and grow. The parasite can live on or inside its host and gets all of its food from the host. Parasites usually aren't very good for their host and can make you very sick. Check out the links below to find out all about these selfish microbes!
Parasites aren’t very independent - in fact, they need another organism, their host, to live on or in! Resources from their host, things like nutrients, shelter and whatever else they need, allow the parasite to live and grow. Different parasites need different resources so each has its own favourite host. Parasites are always on the lookout for their perfect host but some are so tiny you can only see them with a microscope so they are easy to miss!
Good parasites do exist, but they aren’t always very obvious! The nicest parasites are the fungi which you can eat, like mushrooms or food and drinks made using yeast, like bread and soy sauce. Some fungi are also used in medicine, as antibiotics. Other parasites are used in medicine but they are a little yuckier! Leeches and maggots are grown in special laboratories and are used to keep blood flowing or clean up dead tissue after people have had accidents!
There are lots of bad parasites that can cause you lots of discomfort or disease. Parasites have adaptations, special body parts that make it easier for them to infest you! They live on your hair or your body, some even burrow deep into your skin, making it very itchy. These parasites eat your skin or oils that your hair and skin make and even your blood! Others live inside your body and eat your food or damage your organs which can make you very ill!